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Their patience was too much exhausted to wait the gradual returns of the former, and they despised the latter as scanty and inconsiderable.
A conspiracy was formed, which threatened fatal consequences to Columbus, and the colony. Fortunately he discovered it, and seized the ringleaders; some of them he punished, and sent the others prisoners to Spain; with these he sent twelve ships, which had served as transports, with an earnest request for a reinforcement of men, and a large supply of provisions.
That the people might not have leisure to brood over their disappointments, and nourish a spirit of discontent, he sent them on several expeditions into the interior part of the country.
One detachment he sent under the command of Alonzo de Ojeda, an enterprizing officer, to visit the district of Cibao, which was said to yield the greatest quantity of gold; and followed himself with the main body of the troops. He displayed in this expedition, all the pomp of military parade, in order to strike the imagination of the natives: he marched with colours flying, martial music, and a small body of cavalry, that sometimes appeared in front, and sometimes in the rear. The horses were objeets of terror, no less than adıniration, to the Indians, who were unacquainted with that vast accession of power, which man had acquired by subjecting them to his dominion. They considered them as one animal with their riders: they were astonished at their speed, and deemed their strength and impetuosity irresistible.
Notwithstanding this display of power, wisely intended to inspire the natives with an high idea of the strength of the Spaniards, Columbus did not neglect the arts of gaining their love and confidence. He adhered strictly to the principles of integrity and justice, in all his transactions with them, and treated them on every occasion, with humanity and indulgence.
The district of Cibao was mountainous and uncultivated : in every brook and river gold was gathered, either in dust or grains; some of which were of considerable size. The Indians had never penetrated into the bowels of the earth, in search of gold; they had neither capacity nor inclination torefine the rude ore; these were operations too complicated for their talents or industry: neither did they wish to put their ingenuity and invention upon the stretch, in order to obtain it.
The Spaniards however, no longer doubted that the country contained rich treasures in its bowels, of which they soon expected to be masters. The account of these promising appearances of wealth, in the country of Cibao, comforted the desponding colony, which was afflicted with distresses of various kinds. Provisions became scarce, and what remained was corrupted by the heat, and humidity of the climate, so as to render it unfit for use, The ground the natives cultivated, was insufficient for their own subsistence, and the Spaniards had neither time nor leisure, to reap any considerable fruits from their own industry.
They now became afraid of perishing with hunger, and were reduced to live at short allowance. Diseases prevalent in the torrid zone, began to spread amongst them; alarmed at their violence and unusual symptoms, they exclaimed against Columbus and the companions of his for. mer voyage, who, by their exaggerated descriptions of Hispaniola, had allured them from their native country, lo settle in a barbarous uncultivated land, to die either by famine, or of unknown distempers. These complaints came not only from the common people, but several officers and persons of note, joined in these seditious complaints: father Boyle, the apostolical vicar, was one of the most turbulent and outrageous. It required all the authority and address of Columbus, to re-establish order and tranquillity in the colony. But the prospect of wealth, from the mines of Cibao, contributed to sooth the malecontents, which they hoped would be a recompense for all their sufferings, and efface the memory of past disappointments. When concord and order, were in a good degree established, Columbus resolved to pursue his discoveries, that he might be able to ascertain whether those new countries with which he had opened a communication, were connected with any region of the earth already known, or whether they were to be considered as a separate part of the globe, hitherto unvisited.
He appointed his brother, Don Diego Columbus, and a council of officers, to assist to govern the island in his absence. To Don Pedro Margarita, he gave the command of a body of troops, with whom he was to visit the different parts of the island, and endeavour to establish the authority of the Spaniards. Having left them particular instructions with respect to their conduct, he weighed anchor
the twenty-fourth of April, taking with him one ship and two small vessels.
During this voyage, he experienced all the hardships to which persons of his profession are commonly exposed, and notwithstanding he was out five months, made no additional discovery, except the island of Jamaica, which appeared beautiful in the extreme. As he sailed on this unknown course, he was entangled among rocks and shelves, retarded by contrary winds, assaulted by furious storms, and with terrible thunder and lightning, which is almost incessant, between the tropics. To add to his distress, his provisions fell short. His crew exhausted with fatigue and hunger, murmured and threatened ; and were ready to proceed to the most desperate extremities against him.
Danger appearing, in various forms, kept him on continual watch; to issue every order, and superintend the execution of it. At no time his skill and experience, were more severely tried : to these the squadron, owed its safety. Though naturally of a vigorous, and robust constitution, such unremitted fatigue of body, and intense application of mind, brought on a pestilential fever, terminating in a lethargy, which considerably impaired his reason, and his memory, and nearly deprived him of his life. In this dilemma, the crew determined to return with all possible haste to Isabella, which they effected in five days: Columbus recovered his senses, on the abating of the fever, but he remained a considerable time in a feeble state. Here, to his inexpressible joy he found his brother Bartholomew, which greatly contributed to his recovery. It was now thirteen years, since the two brothers had separated, and during that space had no intercourse with each other.
Bartholomew after concluding his negociation, at the court of England, had set out for Spain, by the way of France. At Paris he first received the account of the discoveries his brother had made, in his first voyage, and that he was preparing to embark on a second expedition. This intelligence made him pursue his journey with the utmost dispatch: but Columbus had sailed before he reached Spain.
Ferdinand and Isabella received him, with the respect due to the brother of a man, whose services and merit had rendered him so conspicuous:
and as they knew what E
consolation it would afford Columbus, they persuaded him to take the command of three ships, which they had appointed to carry provisions, to the new colony.
Columbus 'never stood more in need of such a friend to assist him, with his counsels, or of dividing with him, the cares of government. For although the provisions, now brought from Europe, proved a temporary relief, from the calamities of famine, the quantity was too small to last them long, and the produce of the island, was insufficient to support them. They were also threatened with a danger more formidable than the return of scarcity; and which demanded more immediate attention.
When Columbus was absent from the island, on this last expedition, the soldiers under the command of Margarita, contemned all subordination, but dispersed in straggling parties over the island, lived at discretion on the natives, wasted their provisions, seized their women, and treated those inoffensive people, with all the insolence of military oppression. While the Indians retained any hopes of their sufferings coming to an end, by the voluntary departure of their invaders they submitted in silence, and dissembled their indignation : but, now that they discovered the yoke would be as permanent as it was intolerable ; self preservation, prompted them to assume courage, and attack their oppressors with united force, and drive them from the settlements, of which they had violently taken possession. Such were the sentiments, which universally prevailed amongst the Indians, when Columbus returned to Isabella, from his last expedition.
Inflamed, and justly irritated, by the outrages of the Spaniards, with a degree of rage, of which their gentle natures seemed hardly susceptible, they waited only for a signal from their leaders, to fall upon the colony. Some of the caziques had already surprized, and cut off several stragglers. The dread of impending danger united the Spaniards, and re-establishe<l the authority of Columbus, as they saw no prospect of safety, but in committing themselves to his prudent guidance.
It was now become necessary, to have recourse to arms; an event, Columbus had anxiously wished to avoid. The vast superiority of the natives in number, compensated in a great measure their want of fire arms; one unforeseen event, might have proved fatal to the Spaniards. Conscious that success depended on the rapidity and vigour of his
operations, Columbus instantly assembled his forces : which were reduced to a very small number, two hundred foot, twenty horse, and as many large dogs, were all the force he could muster, against (agreeable to the Spanish accounts,) one hundred thousand Indians. Although it may seem strange, to mention dogs as composin part of a military force, they were perhaps, as formidable and destructive as so many men in arms, when en:ployed against naked and timid Indians.
All the caziques of the island, (Guacana hari excepted, who still retained an inviolable attachment to the Spaniards,) were in arms to oppose Columbus. Instead of at. tempting to draw the Spaniards into the woods and mountains, they were so imprudent, as to take their station in the most open plain in the country. Columbus did not allow them time to perceive their mistake, or to alter their position. He attacked them during the night, and obtained an easy and bloodless victory,
The noise and havock made by the fire arms; the imPeluous force of the cavalry, and the fierce onset of the dogs, was so great, that the Indians were filled with consternation: they threw down their arms, and fled without making any resistance: many of them were slain, more were taken prisoners, and reduced to slavery. From that moment, they abandoned themselves to despair, and relinquished all thouglats of contending with aggressors, whom they deenied invincible. Humanity must lament the sad reverse of that unhappy race, who had enjoyed the free and unmolested enjoyment of their native woods; their wants were supplied by the spontaneous productions of the carth; but now a race unknown had invaded their country, and forced them to submit tu exactions unthought of, and arbitrary impositions, which they were by no means enabled to comply with, consistent with their ideas of perfect
Columbus employed several months in the year 1495, in marching through the island, and in subjecting it to the Spanish government, without meeting with any opposition. He imposed a tax upon all the inhabitants above the age of fourteen : each person who resided in the district where gold was to be found, was obliged to pay quarterly as much gold dust as would fill a hawk's bill; from others, twenty-five pounds of cotton were demanded. This served as a precedent for exactions still more oppressive. Con,